Freo's View

WHALERS TUNNEL CLOSED FOR TOURISM

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 30, 2012

What is going on with the opening and closing times of the Fremantle Whalers Tunnel under the Round House. Can the security company who gets paid for it simply decide for themselves? On several occasions the tunnel still had not been opened till at late a 9.30 am although the City of Fremantle information provided last year stated it was going to open from 7 am.

The last few weeks I have noticed the tunnel closed as early at 6.50 pm although it is supposed to remain open till 8 pm.

And why are half of the street lights and Christmas lights down High Street west not working on the night where the Christmas tree is officially switched on

 

Roel Loopers

 

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FREO KINGS SQUARE INFO DAY

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 30, 2012

All Fremantle people interested in finding out what the plans for the Kings Square development are, come to the square between 9.30-11.30 this Saturday morning, December 1.

It is a very important development proposal for our city so turn up in droves and ask all the questions about those things you might be worried about. I attended several workshops conducted by Fremantle CODA architects and I feel the development could be a good start to inner city development.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE REACHING THE POINT

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 30, 2012

News that the tender for the redevelopment of the City of Fremantle Point Street car park will be signed next week, open up very good opportunities for the City to insist on outstanding architectural design and building quality, not just complying with a five star green rating. If council allows a mediocre building to be erected on the site adjacent to historic Princess May Park for the sake to get quick development done, it will lose all credibility. I for one look forward to getting rid of the ugly car park and revitalisation of Princess May Park.

Harbour Theatre have been told they still got another year at the former cinema building and that is probably a realistic time to draw up plans for the area.

Roel Loopers

GOOD RIDDANCE DOCKERS!

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 30, 2012

W.A. Today and a Fremantle community newspaper claim that the Fremantle Dockers football club will be moving to Cockburn. This has been on the cards for quite some time and only extreme optimists believed it would not happen. The Keep Freo in Freo Facebook page did not attract huge community outrage about the proposed move, and the recent election for new board members also failed to endorse Keep Freo in Freo candidate Chris Lewis.

It is disappointing that the Dockers’s claimed at the AGM that a decision was still weeks away, while Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett tells the media the city will vote on an agreement with the Dockers next Wednesday.

The future of the Stan Reilley site next to Fremantle Hospital will now become a serious concern for the City of Fremantle. It might well be a good location for affordable housing.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE STORM MOOD

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 30, 2012

GIVE FREOPEDIA A HAND THIS SATURDAY!

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 30, 2012

The fantastic FREOPEDIA project, conceived by the Fremantle Society, to QR code all significant buildings and sites in Fremantle, so smartphones will direct their users to the relevant information at the Wikipedia on-line library, will culminate in a WIKI-edithon this Saturday December 1 at the Fremantle Library from 12.30-5 pm.

We need people with laptops to give us an hour or so of their time to upload information to Wikipedia, so we can start attaching QR code plaques to buildings early next year.

The Freopedia project will be great for tourists and residents interested in the history of our city. It will also be a huge resource for students. We are creating a virtual on-line tourguide of Fremantle and will be the first city in Australia to have done so.

Please come and give us a hand on Saturday!

Roel Loopers

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FRAMED BY FREO

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 29, 2012

Time and time again we hear politicians say that we all need to take responsibility and ownership and that we should become part of the solution rather than complaining, but my recent experience with just doing that has not been very inspiring and it is doubtful I will take on another community project any time soon. I am talking about the Framing Freo interactive artworks for Kings Square.

Let me indulge you with the timeline of this quirky project.

* In November last year at a David Engwicht placemaking workshop organised by the City of Fremantle I took ownership of the Framing Freo idea, conceived by a group of people. Meetings with two CoF officers were essential but slow. I got quotes to get frames made, but that had to be approved by theParks&Gardens department. They blamed the funny season(Christmas time) for taking over two months to let me know the suggested material was not o.k. Why didn’t the art officers I dealt with find out what the suitable materials would be before I went through the effort of getting quotes and wasted peoples’ time?

* Generously our community minded and highly regarded J Shed sculptor Greg James agreed to create three artworks at cost. He did not make a cent out of the project.

* The artworks were handed to the City and it took two and a half months to get them finally installed on October 10.

* I created a Framing Freo Facebook page so people could upload images with the artwork.

* On October 21 the artworks had been removed because of perceived health&safety and public liability problems. Why wasn’t due diligence done before the commission and installation and checked if the art could be a public safety concern?

* I was assured by a CoF officer the three colourful artworks would be relocated, but 5 weeks after they were removed I have had no indication when and where the relocation will happen.

* I have given many many hours of my time to see this community art work project through from start to finish. I have not made a single cent out of it or received much recognition for it, and neither has artist Greg James. Our generosity of spirit has been taken for granted by the City of Fremantle. I feel a bit framed really. Placemaking should not become frustration creation.

Roel Loopers

Artists Janet Nixon and Greg James with a Framing Freo double heart

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PRETTY WET FREMANTLE ART

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 29, 2012

Wild storms, bloody cold, very wet, and just not right so near the start of summer, but I am a big believer that there is beauty in everything, so I dug out this photo from my files of a reflection of a Fremantle heritage building in the roof of a car covered in raindrops.

More of my reflection art photos are on sale as stunning Christmas presents at the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery next to the Round House!

Roel Loopers

Wet art

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ART HUB, SKATE PARK AND TWILIGHT MARKET FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 29, 2012

Last night’s full council meeting of the City of Fremantle had a very full agenda and public gallery with many people addressing council. The Contribution for Public Art and/or Heritage Works is probably the outstanding decision of the evening. It was adopted that Council can require certain types of commercial and multiple residential development to contribute one percent of the project’s total development costst to the development of art or heritage. Fremantle does not have a great public art collection and the maintenance of heritage buildings has a poor record so hopefully we will see serious improvement in both in the next ten years.

The controversial West End Working Group boundaries were also approved as were the two new members Kate House and Anne Brake, while the third nominee John Dowson was surprisingly left out.

The proposal for the City to manage the Arthur Head art hub was also adopted, so it will be interesting to see where the City will find the money to repair and alter all the buildings, who are in dire need of maintenance.  I am doubtful the $ 150,000 allocated for it is anywhere near enough for what will be required. I am not in favour of making an exemption and leaving the port pilots in their office as this is not an art or culture related business. If the heritage connection is seen as a valid reason for them to stay, the family at number 10 Captain’s Lane should also be allowed to stay as there has always been a residential component on Arthur Head with harbour master and family living up there. The best idea for reactivating Arthur Head is the plan to make a bar/cafe/restaurant out of the most southern J Shed studio. That will bring residents and visitors to the area.

What will also bring people to the West End is the four months trial of a Saturday twilight market at Bathers Beach. It will be fantastic to browse for art and craft and eating international food while watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean from the new boardwalk. I could see that market moved to the front of J Shed once the art hub and bar/cafe there become a reality.

The approval for the design of a Skate Park/Youth Plaza on the Esplanade was also signed off on.   This substantial $ 600,000 project would see serious changes been made to the relaxing and quiet park and a loss of grassed area. While I like to see many more young people having a great time in our city, I believe building the skate park on the carpark directly adjacent and south of the Esplanade would have been better. I suggested it be moved to the carpark in front of the Shipwreck Museum because of its proximity to Notre Dame University, Bathers Beach, the CAT bus and food outlets in the Fishing Boat Harbour.

It is always good to see democracy at work and while not everyone did get what they wanted, big steps were made to move forward and make changes to make our city more vibrant.

Driving home through wild weather I saw the new Christmas decorations light up High Street. They look fantastic and show that semi permanent colourful banners in that street would catch the eye and entice people to wander down the West End. It’s time for the West End Traders to step up and start organising this.

Roel Loopers

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FREO’S FINANCES FINE CEO CLAIMS

Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 28, 2012

Although I have posted the comments by Fremantle CEO Graeme McKenzie under the original article I posted this morning, I believe is deserves more prominence, so I also post it in it’s own right below.

Hi Roel – I’ll try to explain this as best I can, but it can get a bit technical so bear with me….

Firstly, let’s be clear about what the Robson (Metropolitan Local government Review Panel) Report says about the City of Fremantle. I refer you to page 84 of the report where the City of Fremantle is rated as “sustainable” along with council’s like Joondalup, Stirling, Melville, Cockburn, Wanneroo and Swan to name a few. There is no mention or even inference whatsoever in the MLGRP report that the City has any financial difficulties.

The report that Paul Murray refers to is a report commissioned by the Panel which was a desktop review of 30 metropolitan local governments. That review was undertaken without reference to the City so the conclusions or comments are those of the author at that time. Clearly, when Robson looked at other work that has been undertaken over the past decade on local government sustainability he has concluded with confidence that the City is sustainable. And whilst the report may have been useful in some respects for the Panel, it was not the only reference material used.

Now to the issue as I understand it that led to the comment in the commissioned report – and this is where it may get technical.

It’s fair to say that the City of Fremantle has a significant freehold property portfolio when compared to many other local governments.

For many years the City has taken a pro-active approach to its accounting policies and valued its freehold properties and its infrastructure assets at ‘fair value’ and on an annual basis. It’s important to note that not all councils do this but we consider this the most accurate, best practice method. (The State Government agrees and this is explained later).

Using this accounting approach has two outcomes. Firstly it results in significantly increased depreciation charges compared to councils that do not value at fair value. Secondly (and importantly) revaluations must be brought to account via the Statement of Comprehensive Income.

It is believed that the Statement of Comprehensive Income was the main financial document used in a desktop financial review of councils by the analyst who assessed and reported to the Metropolitan Local Government Review Panel (MLGRP).

Since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 there has been a general decrease in values across a range of the City’s assets, as has been the case for assets owned by other councils. The fair value/revaluation adjustments are non-cash, just like depreciation, but this fact is not as obvious in the Statement of Comprehensive Income as the figures are reported via a catch-all category known as ‘Other Expenditure’ – in short, the non-cash adjustments are thrown in with the cash adjustments and this creates a misleading figure.

The MLGRP report quotes: – “The decline in the financial position of the City of Fremantle is difficult to explain as there has been a reasonably volatile operating result over the review period. Further investigation may be warranted to explain the position.”

The City is of the understanding the analyst undertaking the review of council’s financial position for the MGLRP is aware of Fremantle’s fair value policies but did not review to a level that put all councils on a level playing field (ie to remove all non-cash adjustments). It is therefore ‘difficult to explain’ because of the non-cash adjustments not being accounted for.

Interestingly, the WA Parliament has now mandated the future staged implementation of fair value reporting for assets as the most accurate and effective means of valuing assets. The fact that the City of Fremantle has been an early adopter of fair value valuations for assets should therefore be seen as a positive for its ratepayers and the state government. The City is confident that if further investigation was undertaken, it will identify fair value adjustments as the reason for the City’s “volatile operating result”.

Finally, I can assure all residents and ratepayers of the City that Fremantle is in considerably better shape financially now than it was a decade ago. This is exactly the reason why we are able to undertake some large projects that previously would have stretched our capacity beyond reasonable limits.

Graeme McKenzie

CEO City of Fremantle

 

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